Select Board talks reopening plans at May 12 meeting

May 20, 2020 | Dennis Hackett

SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Select Board met for a remote meeting on May 12 to discuss plans to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic and approve several action items.

As part of the weekly COVID-19 update the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart explained that the Town is preparing to begin to reopen under Gov. Charlie Baker’s new four phase plan. He said, “In viewing that with the Health Director [Tammy Spencer] we found it to still be unclear in terms of our type of operations. I’ve asked her to develop a plan in terms of a framework for us to circulate with our department heads.”

He added that the town will be keeping an eye on the Special State Election for the Second Hampden & Hampshire District in terms of seeing more residents out and about as they formulate a plan to reopen.

One of the action items at the meeting was a request from DPW Director Randy Brown to sign a Municipal Assistance Grant Application to design a culvert on Kline Road for $85,000. He explained the grant would just cover the design process and not the actual construction costs. He said, “It’s a three-foot diameter culvert that’s deteriorated and likely undersized and it seems right up the alley for what this grant is looking for. We’re asking for $85,000 to cover the design fees and at a later date whenever we can find funds for the construction, we’ll take care of it then.”

The board unanimously approved the grant request.

After approving the grant request, Deputy Fire Chief Richard Stefanowicz jumped on the call to discuss the difficulties of running the physical abilities test (PAT) for new firefighters, which they have not done in three months. He explained that there are several firefighters that have not been able to be hired as a result.

Ultimately the decision was split into two motions, one to waive the PAT by 60 days and the second to skip one provisional firefighter, Neil Colburn, to the final step in the full-time hiring process which is an interview with the Select Board. Deputy Chief Stefanowicz explained that he has been a great addition to the department so far. “Neil has proven himself to be a very strong candidate, an outstanding young man doing a great job so far, and a very good fit for the department,” he said.

The board unanimously approved both requests to waive the PAT and to interview Colburn at the next meeting.

Stinehart then gave an update on the building inspector hiring process with Kyle Scott set to become the new inspector. He said, “We have an agreement in principle on terms, and he’s just finishing something today, so it looks like we are in good shape within the parameters set by the board.”

The Southwick Select Board next meets on May 26 after taking a week off for the Special Senate Election on May 19.

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